MiiCoffee Apex Review – Prosumer Espresso for $500
MiiCoffee Apex – front with OEM PF
You may very well have seen the MiiCoffee somewhere before – it’s not deja vu. While this feature packed machine may be new under the MiiCoffee brand, it has actually been sold in China and in Hungary for years now. Just recently it has started to been distributed in western Europe and in North America, under the names MiiCoffee Apex, and Turin Legato. But this is good news…
MiiCoffee Apex – side view
MiiCoffee Apex – Other Side
The Looks and Features of the MiiCoffee Apex
I believe that the Apex is aiming squarely to compete with the italian-made Gaggia Classic Pro. It comes with a 58mm heavy portafilter, just as the GCP does. It comes with a 3 way solenoid valve as well, to release pressure from the puck after the extraction. But then it starts to pull away from the competition: it has a larger, stainless steel boiler. It has a separate thermoblock for steaming milk. It includes a black dialed manometer. Finally, it includes a PID in a handsomely rounded display.
The control panel consists of 3 rounded and illuminated buttons: turning the machine on or off, starting a manual extraction, and starting an automatic (timed) extraction. The latter of these also includes the pre-infused extraction. Finally, there is a rotating steam knob with a delightful rubber grip, to activate the thermoblock for steaming milk.
What’s super nice about the PID, is that besides having highly legible white on black numerals, it also employs a shot clock, and a steaming timer. I find these super helpful for dialing in, and for knowing how long to steam for. Finally, there’s an LED on the lower left side of the front panel, which is great for illuminating those sexy espresso shots.
MiiCoffee Apex – front panel view
MiiCoffee Apex – brew group, manometer, light
What’s inside the Apex?
As I mentioned, this machine has both a boiler and a thermoblock. This is so that you can extract right after steaming, without having to cool down a shared boiler – brilliant! It’s however important to mention, that these two heating circuits share a single pump, so they cannot be done at the same time.
If you look closely, you can see the thermocouples on the thermoblock, as two thin black wires. The boiler also has a thermocouple but it’s hidden on the bottom side of the boiler. You’ll also find two over temperature thermostats on each heater, a good safety feature to have. Notice as well, that some wires are protected by braided sheathing. There’s lots of brass components used, metal clips as connectors, and rubber protectors on the heating element’s connectors. All in all, what seems to me to be a solid build.
MiiCoffee Apex – Stainless Steel Boiler
MiiCoffee Apex – Thermoblock
What about the pre-infusion?
Yes, this machine has pre-infusion. Just long press the middle button on the control panel to set the amount of time the pump turns on, and long press the minus button on the PID display, to set the pause after the pre-infusion. Sadly, the 3 way solenoid is however opened, releasing the pre-infusion pressure during the pause. It would be better to just stop the pump, rather than opening the valve. Maybe that will be changed, or configurable in the next version.
What about the flow control, OPV, and PID?
There is a little brass screw sticking out from the underside of the brew group, aft of the LED. By screwing this inwards, you can reduce the flow, and screwing outwards increases flow. I currently have my machine set at 5 ml/sec, and this gives me a nice, gentle extraction. The pressure does in fact ramp up sometimes to 12 bar, but just shortly, then it settles in to 8-9 bar, before slowly decreasing at the end of the extraction, as the puck deteriorates.
No, this machine does not come with an over pressure valve. That kind of stinks, since it is used to set a gate, as to how high the pressure can go at a maximum. Some people added OPVs after the fact, and set them to 9 bar.
The PID works as expected, giving a good steady temperature throughout the extraction. Maybe it peaks upwards a bit towards the end, as the puck is getting tired. But all in all, it does a good job keeping the temp steady, as shown in the video:
So how’s the Espresso and Milk Foam?
I find the espresso to be well balanced, well rounded, tasty. It does well with med-dark beans, and since you can raise the temperature, it does well to bring out the fruity notes of a lighter roast as well. Try 100 degrees Celsius for lighter roasts, as there is a bit of an offset between the setpoint, and what comes out of the brew group (I’d say 4-6 degrees).
This machine steams milk very well. It is powerful enough to create an excellent vortex, but not so powerful that you’re done too early. That gives one enough time to texture the milk after stretching. It does however add a fair amount of water to the frothed milk. I’ve measured about 30ml on average added to 200ml of milk, when steaming for 45 seconds.
Pros and Cons of the MiiCoffee Apex?
This is a pretty sweet machine for the price – I think that’s obvious. People might just be a bit leary of buying it, because it’s a new brand, and it has been designed and built in China. Let’s list the pros and cons below:
- Handsome design, reminiscent of a Lelit
- Integrated PID, pre-infusion, flow control
- Dual heating circuits!
- Good build, solid components
- Excellent value
- No Over Pressure Valve
- Pre-infusion opens 3 way solenoid, instead of just stopping pump
- Design and build in China
– Dimensions: 11″ x 9″ x 15″
– Weight: 23 pounds
– 1450 watt machine
– Stainless steel build
– Dual heating circuits! 550ml stainless steel boiler, plus thermoblock
– 1.7 liter water tank
– PID with shot timer, steam timer
– Made in China
Suggestions for Improvement
I think this machine is going to give the Gaggia Classic Pro and Rancilio Silvia a run for their money. With its PID and separate heating circuits, it provides more functionality at a similar price. Heck, it even gives the Profitec Go a run for its money. The only downside is in its origin – it doesn’t stem from Italy or Germany like the above examples.
I would suggest for the future, that they change the pre-infusion, to just stop the pump, instead of opening the 3 way solenoid. I’d also include a OPV, since most people want that.
Competition is fierce in this price range! I think the Apex will fair well. But one could also consider the Lelit Grace or Victoria, or the Profitec Go. Anyway, I am curious to see how this machine resonates on the market. Until then, thanks for dropping by!
Find your MiiCoffee Apex here: